MUSKEGON, Mich. — For nearly 30-years the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership has been participating in efforts to clean and restore Muskegon Lake. Now the groups' focus is shifting slightly to preserving public access to the lake.
Friday, April 23, the all-volunteer organization released a new video highlighting public assess sites on Muskegon Lake that could slip out of public control.
"Once a piece of property leaves the public domain and goes into private hands there's not very much chance you're going to get it back into the public's hands," said MLWP chair Mark Evans.
The video is intended to spark community dialogue about waterfront properties under city of Muskegon control or Muskegon County control that developers have expressed interest in developing.
"Now is the time while the plans are being made to let your voice be heard," said Evans.
The MLWP has a history of partnering with local governments, universities, governmental agencies, neighborhood groups, and non-profits to clean up, restore and support water-based natural resources in the Muskegon Lake watershed.
Millions of dollars in local, state and federal investments and thousands of volunteer hours have improved the south shoreline of the lake, making it a healthier, more attractive place for people, fish and wildlife.
The final restoration projects needed to delist the lake as a Great Lakes Area of Concern toxic hot spot are expected to be complete this year. The private redevelopment of Muskegon Lake's south shoreline has also gotten well underway over the past few years.
According to Evans many new residential and commercial developments are in the planning stages at a time when local residents are eager to use the lake to swim, kayak and fish from shore. The MLWP believes there's a need to ensure equitable public access for neighborhood residents and visitors.
"Bring people from all of the neighborhoods down to the lakefront," said Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership member Mary Cooper.
Cooper says she considers the video posted to the MLWP's Facebook page an outreach to find out how people feel about the Muskegon lake.
"But not only that to call them to action to stewardship, to preservation of what's occurred over the last 30-years," said Cooper. "To let them know there are places you can go and dip your toes in the water."
For more information on Muskegon Lake public access sites: https://muskegonlake.org/public-access-to-water-resources/.
The Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership's annual spring cleanup will take place Sunday, April 23, from 8:00 a.m. - noon. Volunteers are asked to check in at the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 610 W. Western Ave., for instructions and supplies.
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